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Fran?ois Fillon’s ‘Chinese water torture’

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PARIS — It turned out a speech originally intended as the launch pad for his presidential campaign. Instead, Francois Fillon found himself defending his and his wife’s reputation against accusations of wrongdoing.

After four occasions of bruising?allegations they used?public funds to pay significant salaries to his British wife?Penelope for allegedly fictitious jobs, Fillon on Sunday told onlookers of?12,000 followers while in the northeast of Paris which he will not “intimidated” by attacks which have been directed at “breaking” him.

But even some of his aides conceded Sunday night that it will?take more than a big rally to position the campaign back on track as Republicains that worry he might really need to remove with the race.

The scandal that this French media have dubbed “Penelope-gate” has recently hit Fillon?if opinion polls are to be believed. Based on a survey published in Le Figaro, he previously barely beat former Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron to second placed in the main round with the election scheduled for April 23,?polling at 22 percent to Macron’s 21 percent.

Marine Le Pen, a-# 1 of the far-right National Front, currently leads the polls at 25 %. Benoit Hamon, who won the Socialist Party primary against former Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday night, will come in fourth with 15 percent of the vote, reflecting the momentum his campaign?has acquired in the past couple of weeks.

In your second round, Macron would beat Le Pen, 65 percent to 35 percent more convincingly than Fillon would at 60 % to Forty percent, in accordance with polls. Much more disturbing for Les Republicains, Macron would resoundingly beat Fillon, 58 percent to 42 percent if both men have the ability to keep Le Pen from the runoff?on?May 7.

“Can you imagine?the suitable absent with the first round? Who takes the prize? Le Pen” — senior Fillon aide

Fillon said the other day on French TV he would withdraw from the presidential election?if they’re?put under formal investigation by judicial authorities. At this point, the French financial prosecutor merely has launched a short probe in to the allegations. Even so the fear while in the Fillon campaign is always that the current judicial probe can take a few weeks, with periodic leaks and regular reminders that would cost you “Chinese water torture,” while in the words of a on the?aides.

    Les Republicains lack a credible alternative leader that might be capable of lead its presidential bid.?The?runner-up primarily, Alain Juppe, has already declined a run as the “spare wheel” if his former adversary pulls out. The party wouldn’t adequate to arrange the right primary before the election’s registration deadline March 22. As well as its statutes are puzzled by who contain the authority to select an applicant without an election.

    As for former President Nicolas Sarkozy, his bad showing inside the November primary election and?the hostility it revealed among conservative voters, would preclude him from running regardless of whether he decided, once?again, to absolve?his promised?”retirement” from politics.

    If Fillon pulls out after the official deadline?and Les Republicains can’t then field a candidate, Le Pen would take advantage of the void about the right. This is why his statement to get outside in case of investigation was deemed “a mistake” by one Republicain official who said it “lets a threat hang on the campaign.”

    “Can you would imagine?the correct absent from your first round? Who takes the prize? Le Pen,” said a senior aide to Fillon.

    The faithful kept their faith

    In his speech Sunday, peppered with references to 1960s Gaullism and lures revive France’s prestige abroad, Fillon?struck each of the traditional right-wing notes that attracted hardcore conservative voters in the primary.

    “I’m being identified as the representative of traditional France. But someone without roots is walking in an airplane,” he stated.

    But young drivers . experimented with?reassure that surrounding Les Republicains which have concerned with a platform deemed too?far right?to entice the centrist voters although need to convince during the general election.

    Gone was the proposal to partly privatize the French heath care system, which Fillon had already pulled from his site in December after it came under heavy attack from the two left as well as the far-right National Front.

    Gone also was the relationship with shrinking public sector ranks by 500,000 over incomes, which perhaps the head in the French industrialist lobby MEDEF had criticized as too harsh.

    Instead, Fillon declared that he held public servants in high esteem, regardless if he still needs to shrink a state. “I am the enemy of bureaucracy — not the enemy of public servants,” he explained.

    Senior citizens far outnumbered students at Fillon’s rally and few among the faithful seemed moved through the allegations of wrongdoing.

    “This is trustworthy man, and they attack him because would like to change things,” said Emilie Chanteloup, 62, who’d originated from Normandy to wait the rally.

    However, while the bunch of sympathizers offered enthusiastic applause, some Fillon?aides admitted it would take greater than fiery rhetoric to prevent the troubles under control.

    Money troubles

    Fillon’s campaign plans were disrupted when?the satirical weekly Canard Enchaine revealed?Wednesday that this conservative candidate?had employed his wife like a parliamentary aide, to the tune of 500,000 euros over eight years. Hiring spouses or relatives isn’t illegal inside the French political system if your jobs are real

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    Black caucus chairman pushes to censure Trump over ‘shithole’ remark

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    Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond on Thursday introduced a solution to censure President Donald Trump over what he contends would be the president\’s racist rhetoric referring to El Salvador, Haiti and African nations as \”shithole countries.\”

    The resolution – who has much more than 130 co-sponsors, including House Democratic leaders – calls over the House to publicly state its support for any nations Trump disparaged, censure and condemn the president for his statements, and demand he retract his comments and apologize.

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    At a news conference announcing the resolution alongside House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) as well as other Democrats, Richmond (D-La.) said Trump\’s controversial comments \”should have not been made\” and \”were factually inaccurate.\”

    Richmond conceded, however, the resolution isn\’t \”privileged,\” meaning House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) might need to say yes to carry it in order with the chamber to keep a vote. It\’s almost certain Ryan will not likely do this.

    \”If he doesn\’t, we then will be at other ways to just make a vote on there,\” Richmond told reporters. \”But the facts from the matter is definitely the speaker should bring it up. In the event that he doesn\’t, establishing is enabling and recurring to allow obama to perpetuate this hateful rhetoric, as well as at certain point – whether you agree or disagree – I believe this is the speaker\’s obligation to safeguard the dignity of the property.\”

    If Ryan will not allow a vote, Richmond said he among others would hunt for "creative" strategies to force one.

    Like most Republican leaders, Ryan hasn\’t said much for the president\’s reported comments, though he did acknowledge the other day that they are \”very unfortunate\” and \”unhelpful.\” For Richmond, however, that wasn\’t enough.

    \”It\’s unfortunate when I miss my bus. Or it\’s unfortunate in the event the airlines lose my luggage,\” he was quoted saying. \”But when the president of america decides to Africa, Haiti and El Salvador which he used, which isn\’t unfortunate. That is wrong. That\’s disgusting. That is definitely hurtful. There are a variety of words because of it, but unfortunate\’s undertake and don\’t.\”

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    Ryan's 2017 fundraising haul: $44 million

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    House Speaker Paul Ryan raised more than $44 million in 2017, an off-year record to get a House leader – a financial haul Republicans hope will shore up vulnerable GOP members in what\’s shaping up to often be a tough midterm cycle for Republicans.

    In a final quarter, Ryan raised $4.8 million, his political operation will announce Thursday – down from $6.7 million during the third quarter.

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    The infusion of greenbacks is a follower of Republicans passed a tax reform law last December, which GOP members said would drive support among voters and donors. But also in 2018, Republicans must defend its 24-seat majority spanning a broad battlefield, while President Donald Trump\’s approval ratings stay in the bottom 40s and Democrats hold a broad bring success the generic ballot. Nearly 24 retirements, including California Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa latest research by, will force Republicans to invest more heavily to protect these open seats.

    In 2017, Ryan transferred $32 million to the National Republican Campaign Committee, which announced a unique record-breaking off-year total with $85 million raised in the last year. Ryan also transferred $1.7 million on to GOP members, as well as hosting 49 fundraisers for members.

    "This eye-popping number is usually a testament to Speaker Ryan, House Republicans, as well as the agenda them to led your strugle on in 2017," said Kevin Seifert, executive director of Team Ryan, the speaker\’s fundraising committee.

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    Bannon won't testify again on Russia Thursday

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    Former White House adviser Steve Bannon declined House Russia investigators\’ request to go back for a second interview Thursday, telling lawmakers through his lawyer their own obtain him to go back just 2 days after his first appearance was "unreasonable."

    "The Committee\’s subpoena provides require Mr. Bannon\’s appearance for that second deposition [Thursday] at 2pm. That may be plainly insufficient time for me to undertake precisely what the Committee has asked," Bannon\’s attorney William Burck wrote within a Wednesday letter to store intelligence committee leaders obtained by POLITICO.

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    Instead, Burck told committee leaders that the former senior aide to President Donald Trump would return after reaching an accommodation when using the White House to make sure his testimony doesn\’t violate executive privilege.

    On Tuesday, Bannon-citing instructions from your Trump administration-refused to reply Republican and Democrats\’ questions on his amount of the White House, the post-election transition team and in some cases about his conversations with the president after he was fired from his post in August. His stonewalling infuriated persons in both parties, who subpoenaed him immediately. But despite the subpoena, Bannon declined to reply to their questions.

    Burck\’s letter told the committee\’s top Russia investigators, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), that Bannon remains ready to answer the committee\’s questions-but after striking an understanding together with the White House while on an acceptable scope of questioning.

    "There isn\’t any conceivable solution to talk to the White House Mr. Bannon\’s time using the transition and also the White House, obtain their thoughts about the knowledge he previously provide, communicate those views back to the Committee, relay the Committee\’s views time for the White House, and then negotiate or facilitate a binding agreement amongst the Committee along with the White House from the time allotted by the Committee\’s subpoena," Burck wrote.

    Committee members at the moment are weighing calling hold Bannon in contempt of Congress for avoiding their questions. They\’ve noted that White House lawyers haven\’t formally invoked executive privilege-they just have suggested that Bannon\’s testimony might implicate it.

    White House officials have argued that it is customary for Congress to coordinate the scope of the questions with current and former officials to stop violating privileged information.

    But GOP and Democratic lawmakers have questioned this argument, suggesting they see no reasonable interpretation of executive privilege that might preclude Bannon from discussing his time over the transition team, that is before Trump was president.

    Burck indicated that the committee didn\’t have use of White House and transition documents that has to be relevant precursors to the questions for Bannon and suggested lawmakers and Bannon would require time for them to produce them and review them before Bannon\’s next interview.

    "There are lots of lawyers over the Committee plus the Staff, and i also could well be surprised as long as they believed it becomes anything in addition to unprofessional even unethical should be expected to depose a witness that has did not have possibility for review relevant documents," he said.

    Burck also indicated a potential disconnect between committee staff and lawmakers. He revealed that he had informed the employees of the committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the White House "may not permit Mr. Bannon to discuss his in time the transition and the White House unless an accommodation was agreed between your Committee plus the White House."

    "Staff raised no objection to the telltale restrictions in any of such conversations," he said. "The main objection came yesterday within the Members who appear not to have been informed by Staff about our prior conversations."

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